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Showing posts with the label #Apologetics

You realize other religions have their own apologetics, right?

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Their apologetics don’t evangelize you. Why should yours work on them? About two months ago on a Friday, I was walking to work when I was accosted by a street preacher. He wanted to say hi, strike up a conversation, find out a little about me… and invite me to synagogue that night. Yeah, synagogue . He’s Jewish; he stopped me as I was walking past his synagogue. He’s hardly the first evangelist from another religion I’ve encountered. I meet Mormons all the time, and expect I’ll meet a few more this spring. When I lived in Sacramento, the Muslims were mighty active in my neighborhood, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses came calling every Saturday morning. I had a Buddhist roommate for a few years, and picked his brain about Buddhism. (Then led him to Jesus, ’cause I do that.) I would’ve had a long interesting discussion with the Jew, but I hate to be late to work, so maybe some other time. I know: Certain Christians are gonna be outraged that I dared let work get in the way of an “opp

Has God predetermined everything in the universe? Evil too?

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DETERMINISM di'tər.mən.ɪz.əm noun. Belief every event is fixed in place by external causes other than human will. [Determinist di'tər.mən.ɪst noun , deterministic di'tər.mən.ɪst.ɪk adjective. ] I first bumped into the idea of determinism when I was a kid, ’cause my parents let me read Mark Twain. A lot of people assume, thanks to Tom Sawyer , that Twain was a children’s author. Not even close. And in his later years, after so many of his family members died and Twain became more and more cynical, some of the things he wrote were mighty disturbing. What are the chances I read that stuff? Yep, 100 percent. In Twain’s novella The Mysterious Stranger , some 16th-century German boys encounter a young angel named Satan (named for his uncle— yeah, that uncle ) who takes them on adventures. At one point, young Satan introduces the boys to the concept of determinism. “Among you boys you have a game: you stand a row of bricks on end a few inches apart; you push a

God’s existence. In case you don’t consider it a given.

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When apologists try to make God appear in a puff of logic. Properly speaking, God’s existence isn’t a theology subject. It’s an apologetics subject. Theology is the study of God, and it takes God’s existence for granted: Of course he exists. Duh. Otherwise we wouldn’t waste our time. But for the sake of apologists, a lot of theology textbooks start with an obligatory chapter on God’s existence. The better-written books point out the scriptures take God’s existence for granted: Genesis starts with “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” Ge 1.1 KJV with no preliminary explanation: “See, a ‘god’ is an almighty cosmic being, and here’s how we know only one of ’em exists…” God’s just there , calling worlds into being. The better-written books also point how we know there’s a God: Special revelation. God talks to people, and performs the occasional miracle, so we know from personal experience he’s around. He may be invisible, but his presence among believing Chr

General revelation: How to (wrongly) deduce God from nature.

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GENERAL REVELATION 'dʒɛn(.ə).rəl rɛv.ə'leɪ.ʃən noun. The universal, natural knowledge about God and divine matters. (Also called universal revelation, or natural revelation.) 2. What the universe, nature, or the human psyche reveal to us about God. A number of Christian apologists love, love, LOVE the idea of general revelation. And I always wind up on their bad side, because as a theologian I have to point out it’s a wholly unreliable form of revelation. It’s so useless it actually does pagans more good than Christians. This, they really don’t wanna hear. Because they’ve pinned so many hopes on it. Y’see, apologists deal with nontheists , people who don’t believe in God and are pretty sure he’s never interacted with them before. What apologists try to do is prove God has so interacted with them before. If the nontheist can’t remember any such events, the apologist will try to point to nature and claim, “See, that’s a way God interacted with you!” God mad

Betting on God.

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PASCAL’S WAGER pə'skælz 'weɪ.dʒər noun. Argument that it’s best to presume God exists: The possibility of hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise. My first exposure to Pascal was actually PASCAL . (I lived in San Jose in the late 1970s, so as you can guess, my middle school had the best computers.) I knew PASCAL was named after Blaise Pascal (1623–62), a French mathematician and statistician. I didn’t know he was also a Catholic philosopher who came up with a popular apologetic argument. Goes like yea: Let us then examine this point, and say, “God is, or he is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions. Do not, then, repro

Creationism. (Don’t let it distract you!)

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When American Christians use the word “creationist,” they’re often thinking of the folks who believe in young-earth creationism ( YEC for short). These people seriously believe God created the universe about 6,000 years ago. This date isn’t deduced by observing the universe around them. If we did that, we’d notice we can see stars in the night sky which are billions of light-years away. We’d come to the natural conclusion our universe must be old enough for the light from these distant stars to make it to Earth. In other words, creation took place billions of years ago. Why do YEC adherents insist the history of the cosmos is less than a millionth of that? Well, they claim, they’re literalists . When they read the bible, they don’t believe Genesis 1 is using metaphor, nor trying to describe creation using the view of the universe familiar to ancient middle easterners. Every day of creation is a literal 24-hour period. Every genealogical chart elsewhere in the book represe